Danish-Thai Chamber of Commerce was conceived by Ambassador Mogens Isaksen, Royal Danish Embassy; Peter Miller, Maersk Bangkok Branch, and Poul Weber, Berli Jucker Public Co., Ltd.. The idea was first launched at a meeting, chaired by Poul Weber, at the Royal Danish Embassy on May 14, 1991. About 30 Danish businessmen attended the meeting.
The meeting had been called because of the growing activities of Danish companies and the feeling that we needed to make our presence felt. We also needed a platform for promoting Danish business via official channels, together with the other chambers, of which the American, British, German and Japanese were the most active.
The meeting discussed the pros and cons of setting up a Danish Chamber – originally it was established as Danish Chamber of Commerce – and it was overwhelmingly decided it was a good idea.
An interim fact finding committee with Peter Miller as President and Poul Weber as Vice President was formed to set up the Chamber, including articles of association, by-laws, rules, etc. etc. Other members of this interim committee was Jon Plate, Maersk, Gregers Moller, Scand-Media, Niels Lumholdt, Aviation Services, Ole Freudendahl, Bergsoe Metals, Ole D. Madsen, Scaneast, Svend Andersen, Christiani & Nielsen and Steen Poulsen, Sabroe.
Everybody chipped in to ensure a good start. The logo e.g. was the idea of Niels Lumholdt. Maersk helped with a.o. legal advice from their lawyers to ensure we were acting in conformity with laws and regulations. Gregers Moller helped with PR, etc.
Board meetings were held in the old Maersk offices on Sathorn Road, as well as at the offices of Berli Jucker, at the Polo Club and at the Royal Danish Embassy.
The fact finding committee presented their findings at another meeting at the Embassy on October 9, 1991. Here, the decision to set up the chamber was confirmed.
The registration process of the Chamber was quite slow, but we finally got approval from the Ministry of Commerce on June 18, 1992. Following this, an inaugural meeting was held October 15, 1992.
The first formally elected board was headed by President Peter Miller, Maersk Bangkok Branch, and Vice President Poul Weber, Berly Jucker Plc.
Axel Blom, SAS, today Vice President, is the member who has been on the committee for the longest – he was first elected at the inaugural meeting in 1992 and has been a member of the board ever since. From 1992 until 2000, Axel Blom has been the Treasurer of the Chamber, trying to make ends meet with our limited funds, which was at times not easy. In fact, at one stage, we had to go out and ask Maersk, SAS, Carlsberg, Jebsen & Jessen and EAC to each give us Baht 50.000.- to tide us over a difficult period.
We also owe thanks to the Royal Danish Embassy, whose representative – typically the Commercial Counsellor – attends Board Meetings as an observer. The Embassy has given valuable support to the Chamber during all the years – among others by hosting all the Annual General Meetings of the Chamber for the past five or six eight years.
Our former Executive Director, Monica Holmgren, also contributed greatly to the success of the Chamber. She left Thailand in 1990 to be succeeded by our current Executive Director John Svengren.
The start was quite slow and we did not have too many members but thanks to interesting activities, membership grew. We early on started publishing the magazine Danish Thai Trade News, with Scand-Media as the owner initially earning its income as a percentage of new members fees. It soon became very popular with the membership, as well as a yearly Business Membership Directory. Both products were generously transferred for free to the Chamber by Scand-Media when the Chamber was more stable.
By the end of 98/99 we had about Baht 1 mill. vailable in cash assets and the Chamber is now in a stronger position than ever before with more than 100 members.
Some of the highlights during the years have been meetings with Prime Ministers, Ministers, Chief Executives of Danish companies, the Royal visit and dinner with Crown Prince Frederik in 1997, the State Visit of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik in 2001 plus regular luncheons/meetings with the Joint Foreign Chambers, where we have been active since we started.
The Danish Thai Chamber of Commerce was involved also in the start-up of the European Community Business Association ECBA in 1993, of which Poul Weber was the first Vice President and then President. The idea was to have an entity which could compete with the American Chamber and JETRO. Under the ECBA we had a European Business Information Center. This organisation did some good work, but due to problems with the EU bureaucracy and opposition from some countries it nevertheless had to be discontinued.
ECBA has today developed into European Chambers of Commerce Thailand, which is run by the Chambers, independent from EU, with Tom Sorensen as President this year where Denmarks holds the EU presidency.
Over the years, several unsuccessful attempts have been made to create a Nordic Chamber. However, together with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce from the beginning, and later also with the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, a joint Chamber Office has been established. This co-operation has worked very well over the years.
In 1997, we donated Baht 500.000 to a strawberry project under His Majesty The Kings Royal Project Foundation in the North. The money was raised during a Gala Dinner for HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Sirindhorn in 1997.
An article in Thai Danish Trade News described the success of this project. In 1991, when H.M. Queen Margrethe visited the Royal Project Foundation near Chiangmai in 2001, she was served strawberries from this very project.